March 11, 2009
Hometown Culture Shock – Emerging from Vacation

For a brief moment today, while I was walking up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, I found myself caught in a blissful void somewhere between vacation and real life. As I came out of the subway at Union Square, I had stopped and bought an apple and some cider, and I had a great playlist going on my iPod, thanks to my favorite technological development of late – the iTunes “genius” function. In wanting to fully embrace the beginning of spring, I bought some pansies for my fire escape garden, as a miniature emulation of the blossoming yards I had just seen on vacation in New Orleans this past week.

I was walking up Fifth experiencing New York City still in vacation mode – as if I had managed to bring the version of myself I had become in New Orleans back to New York. Teenagers shouted at each other from either side of me as we passed, cars ran lights and blared their horns at pedestrians, and respect for others’ individual personal space was held in integrity by absolutely no one. For some reason, eating my local apple, enjoying the music in my ears, and still feeling like “New Orleans,” all of these things seemed absolutely delightful. I was thinking, “Isn’t New York so quaint? Look at how rushed everyone is. Isn’t that interesting?”

Somehow, the logistics of running my business, the tasks of nurturing the nuances of my crafts as an artist, and even the moment-to-moment stresses of day-to-day life were paused for a moment. New York seemed fresh and distant – like I didn’t really live here. I had gone so far into the experience of my vacation, that I forgot who I was before I left!

Within minutes, I was at my usual photo lab, consulting on a print order, and learning about new paper stock and printing technologies. And after that, I had some banking to do, and some emails to respond to. So, the moment itself turned out to be just that – a moment – when I had seen my entire life differently, as if it is not all so permanent, not even the way I choose to see things every day.

But I like to think that that energy I felt in my “void moment” has stuck with me, that it was present in my interactions at the photo lab and at the bank – that I am now just a little bit of a new version of myself – and that everyone I meet is meeting someone new. Life feels fresh that way!

I like the idea that I am emerging again: that as the climate of the world has begun to shift in so many ways, I am entering a fresh place from a fresh perspective. I am not the same as when I left a week ago, and it is not the same New York that I returned to. Everything is always shifting, and when I was still enough for a moment, I felt it. What I felt was not scary. It wasn’t even unfamiliar. It simply was. And, it was interesting. I was invested in my experience in that moment. Instead of frantically looking back, then looking ahead, seeing the huge difference between the two, and balking at the change… I just found myself having arrived at the present moment, and finding it curious.

(P.S. Vacation photos and story coming soon!)

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